Top Three Things I Learned This Week
And just like that it’s over. I’ve completed my 240 hours of externship, which is bittersweet. It wasn’t always the easiest time in the kitchen (so much to learn, demanding physically and also the stress of working in a high caliber, busy restaurant), but it was always interesting. Here’s my final Top Three:
- Team/Family– pre-service meal is called “family meal” for a reason—restaurant employees are not just teammates working towards a common goal, but more like family—which makes sense since they spend so much time there, sometimes 12 hours a day! Part of that hospitality is a very generous employee discount when dining in the restaurant, which was a very nice surprise when I dined with a group of friends the night before I finished. We ordered the la’acha , which is the Moroccan family style meal. It was a treat, too, to have visits from some of my favorite people from front and back of house, as well as owner Chef Mourad Lahlou himself. To help with the transition to the new hire, I trained my replacement, which was kind of strange, given how much of a novice I am, but it felt good to be able to show someone else the ropes for a change!
- New Flavors—one of my favorite parts of being in the kitchen was its vast array of Moroccan and other ingredients, some of which were new to me. Readers of this blog know that I love tart flavors, and besides the various spice mixes I’ve written about, here are two more ingredients which I hadn’t used much before will be making their way into my home kitchen: verjus (the fabulously acidic juice of unripe grapes) and rosé vinegar, the latter of which is both pretty to look at as well as having a perfectly balanced sweet-tartness. I plan to pickle some stone fruits and make dressings with these.
- Things I Did a Lot of in the Kitchen That I Won’t Be Doing Anymore-
- labeling things with colored masking tape and sharpies
- reaching way above my height to reach things (or climbing precariously or asking taller people to get things for me)
- standing for the entire day
- drinking out of deli containers
- using tweezers to plate food (or maybe I’ll introduce that into my home cooking!)
- the perk of fantastic free food, even if scraps
- the freedom of wearing the same outfit every day– uniforms are great
- listening to Eminem and Tom Petty while prepping
Thanks so much for following me along my journey of professional culinary training. I graduate in a few weeks and don’t plan to work in a restaurant again—at least not for now– but will still be working professionally in the food world. (I’ll be starting a new job in a few months; more on that to come.) For now, I am taking some time off to collect my thoughts, prepare for my new job and travel. If you’re new to this series, scroll back over the past 6 months for my adventures and tips from culinary school and my restaurant externship.